NY Regents Set to Make Cheerleading a Sport

04.29.14 | FL News Team

A state Board of Regents committee on Monday unanimously approved making competitive cheerleading an official interscholastic sport, which would make New York the 35th state to do so.

The regulation change would subject cheer teams to limits on season length, require rest days between competitions and bolster certification requirements for coaches, among other provisions.

The full board is scheduled to approve the change Tuesday, which would mark an end to a four-plus-year debate in New York over whether cheerleaders should be regulated the same way other competitive sports teams are.

“We’re extremely excited to have the opportunity to recognize this as a sport,” said Robert Zayas, executive director of the state Public High School Athletic Association. “This is something that our association has been trying to accomplish for the last four years.”

The NYSPHSAA, as it’s known, has been publicly pushing the change since 2009, along with the state Council of School Superintendents. Within two years, the athletic association hopes to host a state cheerleading championship for the first time, according to assistant director Todd Nelson.

The regulation change would only apply to cheerleading teams that perform routines in competition, according to Ken Wagner, the state’s associate education commissioner for curriculum, assessment and educational technology.

Those teams that only participate in sideline cheering at basketball and football games, for example, wouldn’t be affected.

“There is a distinction between traditional sideline cheer -- the people who want to cheer on their local school, team or whatnot -- versus cheerleading as a sport, when it becomes much more athletic, complex and risky,” Wagner told the Regents’ committee Monday shortly before it voted. “What is before you is more of the latter.”

A total of 11 Regents voted in favor of the regulation change at Monday’s committee meeting, which is a majority of the full 17-member board that will vote Tuesday.